Germany Becomes a Top Destination for Sri Lankan Rice


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Rice or Paddy production is one of the main productions and staple foods in Sri Lanka. Rice is the staple food of 22 million Sri Lankans and is the livelihood of more than 1.8 million farmers. More than 30 percent of the total labor force is directly or indirectly involved in the Rice sector. Rice provides 45% of the total calorie and 40% of the absolute protein requirement of an average Sri Lankan.

Paddy crops are cultivated as a wetland crop in all the districts. The total land devoted to paddy is estimated to be about 1 million hectares at present. There are two cultivation seasons, namely, Maha and Yala, which are synonymous with two monsoons. Maha Season falls during Northeast monsoon from September to March in the following year. Yala season is effective during the period from May to the end of August. 

About 75 percent of the paddy lands in Sri Lanka are located within inland valley systems of varying forms and sizes. The balance of 25 percent is located in coastal plains and associated flood plains. Rice is grown in 27 districts/provinces of the country. Ampara, Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa, Matara, and Hambantota are key Rice-producing zones. Sri Lankan Rice production incorporates a comprehensive irrigation system drawing heavily from rainfed reservoirs. 

Sri Lanka’s Rice output dropped significantly to 2.92 million tons in 2021-22, from the previous year’s 3.39 million tons. The yield was 4 ton/hectare in 2021-2022. The US Department of Agriculture estimated the island nation’s imports at 0.65 million tons due to lower domestic production. In 2020, Sri Lanka produced 3.2 million tons of Rice in the Maha season and 1.8 million tons in the Yala season. The country’s annual Rice consumption was 2.34 million tons. 

Sri Lanka farmers are estimated to have sown a record 512,000 hectares of paddy in the minor Yala 2022 season spurred by rising pRices and a food shortage scare, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. We do not know precisely how much paddy would be produced, Minister Amaraweera added, explaining: “Some of the farmers who cultivated early did not get chemical fertilizer. Some of them got fertilizer. So, we cannot make the forecasts accurately as we did before”.

Tests carried out by Sri Lanka’s Rice research stations revealed that 70/30 chemical and organic fertilizer mix produced the best results. Although, the Government’s fertilizer supplies were sufficient for the 2021 Yala (off-season) crop, they were not for the 2022 Maha (main) crop. 

Sri Lankan Rice Trade

The country imported 230,000 tons of Rice this year. Sri Lanka consumes about 200,000 tons of Rice a month. Due to money printing, and a ban on open account imports, there were fears of food shortages. However, President Ranil Wickremesinghe liberalized Rice imports preventing a deficiency.

In 2020, Sri Lanka exported Rice worth $8.41 million, making it the 55th largest exporter of Rice in the world. The same year, Rice was the 134th most shipped product in Sri Lanka. The leading destination of Rice exports from Sri Lanka is Germany ($1.23 million), Canada ($1.11 million), Australia ($1.06 million), the United Kingdom ($1.01 million), and the United Arab Emirates ($616k).

Meantime, Sri Lanka imported Rice worth $10.1 million, becoming the 141st most prominent importer of Rice in the world. For the period, Rice was the 252nd most imported product in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka imports Rice primarily from: Pakistan ($6.54 million), India ($3.29 million), Vietnam ($100k), Thailand ($88.3k), and China ($45.9k). As per AgFlow data, Sri Lanka imported 87,900 tons of Rice from India in 2021-2022

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